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The early results are in for Cyber Week retail sales, and they show the pre-holiday online blitz was a washout with Canadian shoppers – another sign the consumer side of Canada’s economy may be hitting a wall.

Online sales in Canada during Cyber Week, a marketing term that refers to the period surrounding U.S. Thanksgiving, dropped 8 per cent from last year and capped a month of disappointing online shopping, according to Salesforce, which specializes in sales management software for retailers.

Globally, Cyber Week sales rose 2 per cent to US$281-billion, the firm said, while U.S. shoppers pushed online sales up 9 per cent during the period.

A couple of factors could be at play in the weak Canadian results. Cyber Week, like its marketing cousin Black Friday, has been losing some of its lustre, with retailers offering similar deals at other times – often, confusingly, under the same banners. And, as the pandemic has waned, shoppers have abandoned their keyboards for the experience of in-person shopping again.

Yet the results extend a pattern of consumer retrenchment in the face of high inflation and rising interest rates. In September, core retail sales, which exclude volatile gasoline prices, fell 0.4 per cent from the month before. This week, Statistics Canada reported third-quarter results for Canada’s economy, which showed household spending fell 0.3 per cent from the previous quarter, the first decline since the second quarter of 2021.

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